News / Africa

African Leaders Urged to Meet With Diaspora

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
James Butty

An outspoken member of the African Diaspora has called on African leaders taking part in a Washington summit to meet with them.  

Chika Onyeani, publisher and editor-in-chief of the African Sun Times newspaper and chairman of the Celebrate Africa Foundation, acknowledged he’s not speaking for the whole African Diaspora.  

But, he said it remits an estimated $70 - $80 billion each year to Africa.

Onyeani said African leaders should give the Diaspora the same respect they give to other groups.  

In July, he wrote to African leaders calling for an African Diaspora Town Hall meeting in Washington during the summit, but received no reply.  

At the same time, he said, the African leaders attending the summit have made themselves readily available to organizations selected by the African Union office in Washington.

“Most of the time when they come they are always with the corporate people.  They don’t really take the Diaspora into account.  And, the thing is that the African Diaspora, especially continental Diaspora, is the most important constituency for the African presidents.  This is a constituency that sends $70 to $80 billion a year to Africa.  So, we are saying that they should be paying the same attention to us that they pay to all these corporate people who don’t contribute,” he said.

In his letter, Onyeani said the Diaspora was worried that the African leaders might ignore the Diaspora due to no fault of theirs while, at the same time, making themselves available to organizations such as the Corporate Council on Africa, which he says aims to profit from the African leaders’ visit.

“First of all, they are having a networking event on the 4th, which is $400 if you’re not a member of the Corporate Council.  And then, there’s a dinner for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, which is $200, and there’s one for Ghana’s president, which is $200, one for the Kenyan president, which is $200, and there is one which is exclusive only by invitation alone for President (Teodoro) Obiang (Nguema) of Equatorial Guinea,” Onyeani said.

Onyeani said all of these fees, plus $100 for a ministerial networking, amount to $1,300.

He said, while a lot of Africans in the Diaspora can afford the amount, they would prefer to remit that money back to Africa to support some the world’s fastest growing economies rather than pay to see their own presidents.

He admits Washington is a city where business or diplomatic deals are sometimes made over dinner.

“We are not saying they should not do it, but what we are saying is that at least they should devote one or two hours to getting together with the African Diaspora, whereby the ambassadors should fund such a meeting. We should not be asked to fund it,” he said.

Onyeani proposed to the leaders that African Union chairperson and Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to organize an African Diaspora Town Hall meeting to be attended by five heads of state chosen by their peers and representing the five regions of Africa.

But, Onyeani said his proposal never materialized.

“I called the Mauritanian Ambassador so many times. I left messages for him. He never returned the call,” he said.

Onyeani said some of the issues that would have been discussed would have included legal recognition of the African Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the continent and an appreciation and encouragement by African leaders for the role the Diaspora is playing as the “largest investor in Africa’s economy.”

He said Africa needs an African Diaspora-centered president like former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

“When President Abdoulaye Wade would arrive in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings, while other African Presidents held their events in high-class expensive hotels like the Waldorf, his event would be held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on 135th and Malcolm X Blvd in Harlem,” Onyeani said in his second letter.

Butty interview with Onyeani
Butty interview with Onyeanii
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

 

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid